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Weekend In Entertainment: 'Nina Simone: Four Women' And More

Nina Simone
Actor’s Theatre of Charlotte
Digital painting of Nina Simone

"Nina Simone: Four Women" presented by the Actors Theatre of Charlotte is one of the entertainment options available around Charlotte this weekend. And it leads off our conversation as we debut a weekly segment on local entertainment that will air Thursday afternoons during All Things Considered on WFAE from 4:00 to 6:30 pm. 

Katrina Louis
Credit Sarafina Wright
QCityMetro Managing Editor Katrina Louis with All Things Considered Host Mark Rumsey

Joining All Things Considered host Mark Rumsey is Katrina Louis. She's managing editor of QCityMetro.

Rumsey: Now for those who may not be familiar with the four women reference in the title of this play what's the significance there?

Louis: So the play is set within the framework of Nina Simone's song "Four Women," and it's told through the different perspectives of four women and a lot of the conversation and dialogue in the play is around colorism. So you have women who are of different shades -- and it was just a tense time in America. You know Nina Simone had got involved in activism and things like that and she penned the song "Four Women" and the play brings a lot of that into the dialogue and you get the experience of, you know, these four black women and just the conversation that's going on at the time.

Rumsey: So how does the play do that? I mean what should people expect when they go?

Louis: It's pretty powerful especially because it's still going on today how you see the pit against light skin versus darker skinned women. Definitely talking about the things of the time racism, classism, you know more well-to-do versus more working class things like that. So I think it's a step back into time from the perspective of what's it like when even within the same culture there's diversity within it.

Rumsey: What's the genre? Is this a musical?

Louis: It is a drama, but a lot of her songs at the same time. So like "Four Women" and things like that its set to some of the dialogue.

Rumsey: The young woman portraying Nina Simone in this Actors Theatre of Charlotte production Destiny Stone is her name. I understand she's fresh out of college. Teaches music at an elementary school in Gastonia. Intriguing. Any insights on what she brings to these performances?

Louis: She's very captivating and I think how she plays off of a lot of the other characters it is something that feels like it will have your attention during the play.

Rumsey: Well anything else that people should know about this Actor's Theatre production that's currently running at Queens University of Charlotte's Hadley Theatre?

Louis: I think it's definitely something to get insight into different cultures. It's not just meant for one set of people to enjoy. I think it's something that everybody can gain some insight from especially in the times that we're in today. Knowing how to live amongst each other in society and things like that.

Rumsey: That's not the only thing on the entertainment calendar this weekend and with, I guess, a drastic change of tone, there's the Festival of Laughs going on?

Louis: There is. At Ovens Auditorium on Friday, February 1, there are four comedians. You have Sommore, Earthquake, Tony Rock and George Wallace. The Queens of Comedy was a big thing out in the early 2000s, so you know these are all veterans in the comedy game. It's just a good, good laugh. You know you've seen their projects individually so here is the end of the week and time to get your laugh on.

Rumsey: Okay. And then there is a Whiny Grapes Indoor Wine Festival. Good planning at this time of year I guess for the indoor part.

Louis: Yes, yes. And it's an annual event so I think you'd have to be mindful if you're going to hold this type of event in February. It's in South End at Slate Charlotte and you get to sample they said more than 100 different types of wine for tasting. You can purchase there but it will be ready to pick up the following week.

Rumsey: And just briefly there's something going on Sunday called the Historic West End Digital Mapping Project. That sounds interesting.

Louis: Yes. This event is looking at the neighborhood of Biddleville. Different landmarks and different history, kind of like a walking tour. There is going to be different activities to do on your phone as you take this tour. So something cool, something different especially to learn about a neighborhood that's in Charlotte.

Rumsey: That's Katrina Louis managing editor of QCityMetro talking weekend entertainment with us here at WFAE. Thanks Katrina.

Louis: Thank you.